Task Interdependence & Communication Styles in Teams.

AuthorPandey, Aparna


Researchers like Rico et al. (2007), Cross et al. (2008) state that universally all organizations have teams and therefore an increased interest in teamwork is observed among scholars (Mathieu et al., 2008). Teams can be distinguished from different groups of individuals by the nature of interdependence of team members for team related work (Saavedra et al., 1993; Katzenbach & Smith, 2005) as it is not possible for individual team members to accomplish team tasks and fulfil team goals alone, with no cooperation from other individuals in the team. Task Interdependence signifies the extent to which "team members interact and depend upon each other to attain their goals "(Campion et al., 1993). The findings of Maznewski and Chudoba (2000) indicate that in a majority of effective teams a higher frequency of communication among team members could be linked with tasks that required greater interdependence.

As per Eunson, (2008) "A team is a collection of people who must work interdependently to achieve a common goal or output." Therefore, communication provides a foundation for team collaboration. In all types of teams in which people are members of or the team task they aim to undertake, constant interaction and exchange of information for accomplishment of team goals is a necessity, and this is evident through each team member's own unique style of communication. The focus of the present study is on the ability of team members to handle different tasks interdependencies and the communication styles of team members as they handle their team task responsibilities.

Task Interdependence

Wageman (1999) indicated that Interdependence encapsulates team interaction and the way team members interact with each other and includes those features of the team that relate to determining how much team members rely on each other. Interdependence is a concept that is fundamental to the definition and existence of teams and which may impact the success of the team. Task Interdependence is a measurement of the degree to which a team has work collaboration and is a reflection of the extent of information exchange and this work collaboration contributes to team task completion (Thompson, 2003). Researchers like Saavedra et al. (1993), Wageman (1995), Van der Vegt et al. (2000), Van der Vegt & Janssen (2003), Stewart (2006) have studied the influence of the degree of Task Interdependence on team effectiveness and performance (Burke et al., 2006). According to Ramamoorthy and Flood (2004) Task Interdependence may "not only be related to task characteristics, and the way work is organized, but also to the way in which people work together" and other social cues, like leader behaviors and other team member behavior. Further their signals might also be the focus of the team members (Drach-Zahavy & Somech, 2010).

Communication Styles

Communication styles play an important role in personal relations as they are an expression of one's personality (De Vries et al, 2009). Gudykunst et al. (1988) concludes that Communication style refers to a "meta-message" which is a reflection of the unique way individuals convey and interpret a verbal message. These styles of communication are uniquely associated with the personalities of individual team members. Mitchel's and Winick's Color Model (2006), DeBakey's Adaptive Matrice (2007), De Vries et al. (2009) are various models of communication styles which have been developed and presented in different studies. The Lexical approach which specifically helps identification of the content and the different dimensions in communication styles has been used by De Vries et al. (2009). This approach also takes into consideration the unique individual way of conveying through paraverbal, non-verbal and verbal signals in social interactions. Communication style is a "characteristic way a person sends verbal, paraverbal, and non-verbal signals in social interactions" (De Vries, Bakker-Pieper, et al., 2009)

Theoretical Antecedents

Kelley & Thibaut (1959), in their Interdependence theory focuses on the analysis of relations between people in different situation structures. The consistent patterns of behavior that a person showcases across situations are evidence of individual differences. The cognitive-affective processing systems (CAPS) model (Mischel & Shoda, 1995) proposes that anticipated patterns of response to critical areas of situations or constitution of behavioral "signatures" can be observed, and these are actually activated by situations as typical patterns of cognition and affect.

von Bertalanffy (1950) outlined Systems theory which emphasizes that real systems work in harmony with their surroundings and brings attention to "the collection of as well as relations between the parts" that join them into a unit (Kast & Rosenzweig, 1972). Mulej et al. (2004) suggested that Interdependence is one of the seven principles of systems theory. Buble (2012) research indicates that Interdependence relates to diverse set of systems within an organization that work autonomously towards task completion.


This research paper is an attempt to study the relationship between Task Interdependence and Communication styles of team members in teams. The question guiding the research is:

* What is the relationship between Communication styles and task Interdependencies in work teams?

The variables studied are:

Task Interdependence--Task Interdependence refers to the degree of dependence of team members on each other for team tasks.

The three Task Interdependence are:

* Pooled Interdependence involves team task work characterized by relatively independent functioning of team members who come together for a combined output contributing to team's or organization's overall goals.

* Sequential Interdependence happens when the output of one unit in the overall team task process is a necessary requisite for performance by the next unit.

* Reciprocal Interdependence involves a continuous to and fro of information and interaction and is characterized by the cyclical exchange of the output of one department as it becomes the input of another.

Communication Styles -indicates the manner in which information is sent and received by individuals. Each style has its own uniqueness and effectiveness for specific tasks and situations and has its share of advantages and challenges.

* Expressive--Relates to expressiveness while communicating in different situations and with different people. The facets of this style are dominant, humorous, informal and talkative

* Precise -Relates to preciseness in communicating and could be thoughtful, concise, structured, and substantive.

* Verbally Aggressive--Relates to how verbal aggressiveness in communication with others and includes facets like authoritarian, angry, harsh and supportive.

* Questioning--Relates to how questioning one's...

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